For whatever reasons (probably dance classes... yeah, I blame dance classes) this last year has had me meet a whole lot of new people who span a whole range of ages. And for whatever other reasons, one of the things new people like to find out about another person is how old they are.
I often use age as an indicator to figure-out how much silliness I can get away with (older people) or how much restraint and maturity I should show (younger people). (Dunno why it's that way around; if anything I should be sillier amongst the younger like my nieces, and show maturity with those older like my grandparents.) I'm sure others use age to gauge other things, but one thing that happens to me over and over again, and with increased frequency as of late, is that people underestimate my age.
'Everyday' examples include getting ID'd at bars, purchasing alcohol from stores or the grocery, or even the occasional R18 movie. During my recent ski trip, when I hired ski pants from a ski hire shop, the day I hired them I got asked if I was 18 or under. When time came to return the ski pants, I got asked again. I really should've said yes because that second time the salesperson had an item vs days hired price chart in-front of him and I could see the difference in price between 18-and-under and adult hire. If only I had lied, I could've gotten almost 50% off the hire price! Dammit!
But for 'non-everyday' cases, when it's encountering new people who I see often and who get enough time to form all sorts of opinions and impressions about me before I even work-up enough courage to find them on Facebook, things get a bit more annoying.
At a big dance party last year, a friend from ceroc (not amazing baking girl, so that really only leaves 1 other person at that time) and I were discussing our high school years, when she said "That should be easier for you to remember, since it can't have been that long ago for you." I looked at her weird before asking her how old she thinks I am, and then giving her the answer. Signs that my response threw her off could be easily observed: an almost-awkward silence followed, during which time I could see the cogs slowing inside her head and her thought processes coming to a bit of a halt as this new fact didn't seem to coincide with everything else that she thought she knew, and so the operators inside her brain had to take the system down for a while to remove the spanner I had thrown in the works.
The same thing happened again more recently with another new ceroc friend (different topic of conversation, same blank response), and again just last week with a complete stranger who, to her credit, was just asking everyone their age to get a range and find-out if anybody else there is her son's age so she can go back to her son and tell him that yes, people your age do indeed take dance classes.
Then of course there was the door lady at dance class who asked if I had a student card...
As great as it is to learn that everybody thinks I look young, it does come with some caveats: not only does my age get underestimated, but my abilities get underestimated too. In the case of getting ID'd, the bouncer or salesperson doesn't pass any long-term judgement; they only require I pass the age test, and all I have to do for that is throw some government-issued photo identification at their face. Undoing the damage caused by the impression that you've just left high school however, is a little harder - I spend half my time copping young 'un jokes, and the other half trying to prove that I do indeed have a full-time job and a university degree.
The long-term challenge however, is that if the stereotypes are to believed, my Asian genes are going to ensure I look like this until I turn 60 (provided I even live that long), at which point all my hair will immediately turn grey, I'll grow a long beard, and whenever somebody asks me a question, I will stroke said beard sideways, speak in riddles, and in the process give out sage advice.
When you're young, your age is an indicator of the number of years you've been around, the amount of stuff you've seen and done, the percentage of the multiplication tables you're expected to know, and the bigger that number, the cooler you are. When you're older (and heck, you don't even have to be that old before you reach this tipping point) it's an approximation of the years you've got left, the amount of stuff you haven't seen or done, the percentage of mathematics you've been taught and since forgotten, and the bigger that number, the less-cool you seem to feel.
Age sure is a strange thing.